Increasing numbers of workers are working remotely, often at home offices while their employer is hundreds of miles (or even further) away. Remote work opportunities allow employers to tap a talented workforce instead of having to find people who live in the same town or city, so it is an option that could prove even more popular in the future.
If you are a remote worker, you should be aware that you have the same rights as other workers based in an office. Some employers might obscure that fact. However, remote workers have the following rights (and many others).
Minimum Wage & Overtime Pay
New Jersey currently requires that most employers pay $11.00 an hour. All non-exempt workers must also receive 1.5 their regular rate of pay for any hours worked over 40 in a week.
Working remotely does not change this fact. Although independent contractors are exempt from these rules, a worker is not an independent contractor simply because they work remotely. Instead, the key under New Jersey law is whether the employer exercises a certain amount of control over how the work is performed and when.
If your employer refuses to pay minimum wage or overtime because you are allegedly an independent contractor, consult with an attorney.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not make it a practice to inspect home offices for those who do office work or writing at home. However, OSHA might make a visit to a remote worker who is handling chemicals or doing assembly or manufacture. These workers are entitled to a safe workplace, even if they are working in a remote location or at home.
New Jersey requires that employers obtain workers’ compensation insurance, which pays out benefits for those employees injured on the job. Workers’ compensation can cover reasonably necessary medical care along with wage loss benefits.
Again, this benefit is not available for people who are independent contractors, but you need to make sure that your employer is not misclassifying you.
Employers cannot discriminate against remote workers any more than they can discriminate against employees in their own office. Federal and state laws protect against discrimination on the basis of many protected characteristics, such as race, sex, pregnancy, disability, religion, and age. Employers who discriminate are subject to penalties and can ultimately be sued.
Is Your Employer in a Different State?
Some New Jersey residents work remotely for out-of-state employers. In this situation, it can be confusing to determine which state’s laws apply—New Jersey law or the law of the employer’s home state. Instead of assuming that you do not have rights, workers should meet with an attorney
Sattiraju & Tharney, LLP Protects the Rights of Remote Workers in New Jersey
Worker misclassification and other issues crop up all the time as New Jersey employers try to limit their legal responsibilities. The rise of remote work has only made the problem that much worse.
If you have a question, please contact our law firm today. We have helped many New Jersey workers get the compensation they deserve.